I’m looking for a serious relationship, but it’s rare to find a strong connection.
For that reason, I like to keep my options open and not be pressured into anything.
Here are the top indicators that a man wants to remain free while he finds what works best.
10 signs a guy is keeping his options open (complete list)
1) He doesn’t say ‘I love you’
If you’re in a relationship with a guy who seems to not be committing, then you’ve probably noticed this sign.
You say “I love you” and he says “thanks” or “…that’s so sweet.”
But he doesn’t say it back.
And even if you don’t say it, you notice that he doesn’t seem inclined to express strong affection for you either.
This could be because he’s either a fairly private and shy guy, or because he’s trying to keep his options open.
No guy wants to sink himself into a relationship too deep only to realize that he actually wasn’t that into it.
For this reason, he may be sparing with the words of love he uses with girlfriends, in order to not make any false promises and commitments.
2) He usually lets the woman initiate
Another of the top signs a guy is keeping his options open is that he usually lets you initiate communication and intimacy.
You text first, call first and message first. You’re the first to interact on social media. You’re the first to go in for a kiss or touch him and warm things up.
He holds back a little, may avoid eye contact and generally seems only half into it.
Yet if you back off, you might notice he starts chasing or initiating once he notices you’re fading out and not in contact very much.
These are all classic indicators of a man keeping his options open. They indicate that he likes you and is interested but either hasn’t decided how serious he wants to be or hasn’t decided the depth of his attraction for you.
3) He sends mixed signals
Mixed signals are super upsetting for us guys, so I can only imagine how they are for women.
Mixed signals have you feeling great one day and then feeling like you’re stranded on a desert island the next.
They can totally sap your confidence and have you questioning whether someone even likes you at all.
Unfortunately, they are also one of the top signs a guy is keeping his options open.
4) He’s talking to more than one girl at once
This is another of the top signs a guy is keeping his options open: he’s talking and flirting with various girls at the same time.
If you’re going out with this kind of guy then there’s really only two ways you’ll know about this other than him telling you straight up.
The first is that you see his phone and notice many conversations with various ladies and open dating apps.
The second is that you notice him openly checking out attractive girls when you’re out on dates and then looking embarrassed when he gets caught.
If he’s constantly trying to hide his phone from you or intentionally avoiding looking at beautiful women when you look his way then he’s likely doing both of these.
However in the end the only way to really be sure is to catch him in the act.
If you’ve only gone on a few dates, there’s a good chance he’s doing this and keeping his options open: I know I do.
However if things are getting more serious then you have a right to start questioning his interest in still chatting and flirting with other women.
5) He’s vague about his plans
When a guy is keeping his options open, it’s not just in the long term.
It can also include his options for tonight, tomorrow or the next two hours.
For this reason, a guy who’s keeping an open schedule may be very vague about his plans.
“We’ll see,” “might” and “maybe” are common words he uses when planning potential dates or meetups.
This can verge into him being downright unreliable and evasive when trying to plan dates with women, which can understandably cause some frustration and feelings of being left in the lurch.
6) He’s focused on sex
Another of the key signs a guy is keeping his options open is that he only focuses on sex.
Chasing tail seems to be his full-time profession, and women may notice that this guy is always returning back to the bottom line: sex, sex, sex.
Well, this can become tiring for a lady who’s looking for more, but it shouldn’t come as a surprise that a man who’s only ever interested in getting to the bedroom is not very serious.
If he’s just focused on what’s between a woman’s legs and not in her head, it’s a sign that he’s not too concerned with what she thinks of him.
Any intelligent guy knows that focusing only on the physical isn’t the way to start a real relationship.
So he’s only doing this if he’s not really into you in the first place or if he prefers to just try sleeping with various girls before really considering any real connection with one of them.
7) He’s not taking things slow
A common misconception in the dating world is the idea that taking things slow and keeping options open are the same thing.
They can be, but usually they are not.
Let me explain:
Taking things slow does not necessarily mean that a relationship is casual or based on non-commitment. It often involves a very intense but steady progression into something serious.
Taking things slow can be focused, romantic and seductive.
Keeping options open generally is not about moving slow. It’s more about tasting samples of everything before deciding what to buy (or buying nothing at all and walking out of the store altogether).
A guy who is keeping his options open is not necessarily moving slow: he will often move quite fast in the physical department but less so in the relationship department.
The message is clear: he’s interested in dating many girls at once and seeing if anything arises that seems worth pursuing to him.
Taking things slow is like carefully focusing on one job until it’s done or clear what needs to be done in it; keeping options open is more like going to ten job interviews in the same week but not committing to accept any of them when offers roll in.
As Kelsey Dykstra writes for Bolde:
“If you’re taking things slow then he’s still focused on you.
Keeping his options open means that you’re just one of many possibilities in his life.”
8) He reacts badly to talk of a serious relationship
Another of the important signs a guy is keeping his options open is that he doesn’t like talk of a serious relationship.
I know that when girls have asked me about this and I wanted to keep my options open, my first reaction was a pit in my stomach.
It was the last thing I wanted to talk about, but I wasn’t sure how to respond in a way that didn’t sound like outright rejection.
The truth is that sometimes a guy really just isn’t that into someone he’s dating and is too afraid to say it.
But other times he really does like her but also wants to keep options open and not get tied down without being sure about it.
It’s not always easy to tell the difference, although an expert opinion can help clarify a lot.
9) He shies away from meeting your family or friends
Another of the typical signs a guy is keeping his options open is that he doesn’t want to meet your friends and family.
He may make excuses or delay, and he may even say hi if he’s put on the spot to meeting them.
But it will be clear to a potential partner that this guy is not into it.
Because he wants to keep his options open and knows that the more he forms close ties with a woman the more chance it will be harder to get out from a serious relationship with her.
He may even feel that a woman is trying to “trap” him by introducing him to more and more people close to her.
10) He’s not interested in talking about the future
Even if you respect a guy’s desire not to get into labeling your dating, you may wish to talk about the future.
One of the biggest signs a guy is keeping his options open is that he doesn’t want to talk about the future with you.
If he does, he may get into his personal goals and ambitions but have no mention of you in that hypothetical scenario.
This is a guy keeping his options open.
At least it is nice that he’s not over-pressuring, but the dilemma of a man keeping his options option is two-fold:
On the one hand, it allows him to be more selective in deciding who to settle down with. It takes some pressure off and lets women also feel out how they’re relating to him and whether it could get serious.
On the other hand, it can take the foot so far off the gas pedal that the whole car stalls and goes off the road. In other words, the lack of clear direction and guidelines can leave potential mates confused and resentful.
Is there a happy medium?
It really all comes down to the intentions of the guy who’s keeping his options open and what he’s hoping to accomplish with it.
Is keeping his options open just a synonym for having lots of casual sex? Or is it actually a way for him to try to find Mrs. Right and not lead anyone on?
The fact of the matter is that the intentions are not always crystal clear right from the start.
Playing the field or playing to win?
As I said at the beginning, I keep my options open because I don’t want to get into a relationship unless I really trust my partner and know it’s a genuine connection.
But every guy’s motivation is different for keeping his options option.
Is he playing the field for kicks or playing to win? That’s always the question, and some men might even be internally confused about their own motivations.
Nonetheless, the above signs will give you a good indication that a guy is trying to avoid getting into anything serious for the time being.
But what if you’re still finding his behavior too strange to explain?
With a professional relationship coach, you can get advice tailored to your unique situation…
Relationship Hero is a popular site where highly trained relationship coaches help people work through complex relationship issues, like dealing with a guy who wants to keep his options open. Their popularity boils down to how skilled their coaches are.
Why am I so confident that they can help you?
A professional can easily figure out this guy’s intentions and point you in the right direction. What’s more, they can empower you to make the right decisions when it comes to him.
They’re very helpful and they’ll steer you right!